Our Rape Culture is successfully grooming boys and men to rape girls and women, and grooming girls and women to accept rape as normal, healthy sex. That’s a heavy statement. Remember, in Part 1 of this series, I said:
“I am going to say some very, very upsetting things. I am going to talk about:
—Studies that show what percentage of men would probably rape a woman if they thought they would get away with it
—The percentage of men who find filmed rape and misogynist violence arousing and consume it on a regular basis,
—The ways our culture grooms females to comply with their own rape, dehumanization, and exploitation
—The ways our culture grooms males to ignore and override female boundaries, and to justify those actions
—The ways our culture grooms males and females to believe that most rape is not rape
—The ways our “Rape Culture” destroys the ability of males and females to have healthy relationships or healthy sexuality
—The ways men and women can help keep everyone safer, happier, and healthier
What I am NOT GOING TO SAY:
—-And this is important, because it might sound to many people as though I am saying things I am NOT SAYING!—
I am NOT SAYING:
—All men are rapists
—All men are bad
—Women never rape or abuse men (or boys)
—Boys and men should feel horrible about being male
—Being male is bad
—Being female is inherently better than being male”
Please go reread Part 1 if you begin to misunderstand me and think I am saying things I am NOT SAYING. I won’t repost this section every single time, but I have to be a broken record because defensiveness always surges whenever I speak out.
In Part 2, I discussed Pornography, its normalization of rape, vicious brutality, and misogynistic degradation of females as mainstream, the high percentage of males that consume this horrifying violence regularly for sexual gratification, and the way porn trains males to rape females.
Let me begin this post by asking you females a question: Have you been raped/assaulted by a male? How many times? By how many males? Are you sure you know the answer to those questions? I’m sorry to break it to you, but… you’ve probably been raped and/or assaulted more than you think you have.
I speak about this topic from the perspective of a woman who has undergone the painstaking work of de-normalizing the violence that I have experienced. My awareness began to develop when I dated an abusive man in college. After leaving him, I was raped by another man I had been dating. When I told my family about the date rape, I never used the word “rape.” I didn’t start using that word until several years later, after I began having terrible PTSD and went to a support group and therapy. I realized at that point that most of the “sex” I had had with my abusive ex had been rape. I began to tell my female friends about my date rape experience. Almost all of them said, “Yes, that happened to me, too… but I never called it ‘rape.’” ALMOST ALL OF MY FEMALE FRIENDS HAD BEEN RAPED BUT HAD NOT ADMITTED IT — not to themselves, not to their rapists, not to anyone — certainly not to law enforcement!
I was date raped by a third man shortly after that. And over the next fifteen years, I gradually came to understand that what I had been thinking of as “horrible sex” with four other dates/boyfriends, had also been rape.
**TRIGGER WARNING: descriptions of rapes**
I came to understand that when a woman begins shouting in pain, the man should stop. If he does not, he has raped her. When a woman begins to cry because she so desperately wants the man to stop, he should stop. If he does not, he has raped her. If a man threatens a woman that if she does not agree to sex with him, he will jeopardize her job and living situation, and so she complies out of a sense of fear rather than desire, he has raped her. When a man enters a sleeping woman’s room uninvited in the middle of the night, she tells him she has taken sleeping pills after having drunk alcohol, he knows she is not conscious enough to think clearly, they have never been in a sexual relationship, and she is too incapacitated to fend off his advances, he has raped her. It took me fifteen years to understand that all seven of these men raped me. And since that time—because of the “We Can’t Consent To This” movement trying to prevent men from getting away with murdering female sexual partners by calling it “bad sex gone wrong,” —I have been thinking about an eighth man… a man who choked me during sex, without checking to see whether that was ok with me. I was frightened, disturbed, and confused, and it affected me for a long time. I did not consent to being choked that day. I did not consent to an act that mimics my brutal murder. I did not consent to homicidally violent roleplay. That “sex” became rape the moment his hands wrapped around my neck.
**End TRIGGER WARNING**
My recovery journey from all of this rape has included a need for a whole lot of self-forgiveness to heal from the fact that I had so normalized male sexual violence against my body, my precious, sweet, sacred body, that I did not even realize I had been raped. I somehow thought I did not have the right to be utterly furious, or to have the space to grieve and release the terrible trauma of all those rape incidents. Thousands of rapes and assaults from my abusive ex-boyfriend, and a long list after leaving him. I had normalized the rape and abuse of my body by men. That’s why it took me so long to realize how many men have raped me. Have I left any out? I am sad to say… I do not know.
But that’s not all. The above examples may seem somewhat obvious. I hope so, even though they were not obvious to my friends of twenty years ago. Our culture is determined to brainwash us that rape of females is normal sex, and dehumanizing degradation of females is sexy. Next month, we have to discuss the difference between compliance vs. consent, and that will involve discussing the way our Rape Culture grooms girls and women to comply with sex they do not want, (WHICH IS RAPE!) and to believe there is something wrong with them when they are miserable from being serially raped and abused. We need to teach men and boys not to rape, and we absolutely must teach girls and women that they do not deserve to be abused or raped.
This post is part of an ongoing series.
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.